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Black Sails series premiere recap: Yo ho ho!

Pirates perform acts of piracy. Just like those Johnny Depp movies, now with 1000% more nudity!

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Black Sails Toby Stephens
Frank W Ockenfels 3 / Starz

Black Sails

TV Show
Current Status:
On Hiatus
run date:

The new pirate drama Black Sails has a lot on its mind. The brutal march of civilization. The rise and fall of the frontier. The socioeconomic implications of black market economies. Swords. Boobs. Guns. Perfect, incandescent white teeth that actually seem to glow neon in contrast to perfect sunbaked skin. Boobs. Perfect hair. Beards. Swears. Democracy. Michael Bay produced this show, and I choose to read Black Sails as the origin story of the entire Michael Bay-verse. Sean Connery in The Rock is descended from Toby Stephens in Black Sails. Somewhere beneath the waves, Megatron lurks, awaiting his call to action.

Of course, Black Sails is technically a prequel to Treasure Island, a book written by Robert Louis Stevenson which is a classic of adventure literature despite having some very serious flaws. (Way Number One: Noticeable lack of pornstaches.) The premiere of Black Sails quickly introduced us to all our old favorites from when we read Treasure Island at school in 1895 when we were all British schoolboys.

A freighter was attacked by a pirate ship. Onboard the non-pirate ship, a charming and raffish curly-haired scamp named John Silver greeted the ship’s cook, who was trying to hid something. “‘Allo, mate!” said John Silver. “Oim quite a charmer, oin’t I! You could say oim a regular Sparrow, Jack!” Silver had blue eyes the color of the waves crashing upon some farflung island coastline. The cook tried to kill him immediately, failed.

Upstairs, the pirates took over the ship. Their leader, Captain Flint, has blue eyes the color of sea serpents ravenous in a watercolor sunset. Then came the credits, which showed lots of statues variously stabbing each other and having sex with each other, I think? If Black Sails ever has an aftershow hosted by Chris Hardwick, it should just be statues re-enacting all the scenes from Black Sails. Clearly it would be called Yak Sails.

The ship taken, we quickly met our cast of characters, all of whom have names I won’t use until any of us can remember them. The gingerbearded Captain Flint is assisted by his quartermaster, Baldo McMutton, a savvy operator who is nominally the crew’s representative but who has a vested interest in maintaining the Captain’s authority. Said authority was immediately challenged by a tall bald fellow whose deep voice earned him the nickname Baritone Charlie in taverns across the West Indies.

Baritone Charlie didn’t think much of Captain Flint. Baritone Charlie thought he could make a better captain. In Black Sails‘ telling, being captain of the ship is an elected office which is constantly open to recall, kind of like being governor of California or mayor of Pawnee. Captain Flint hasn’t been earning very much money lately. People have lost faith in him, kind of like when people lost faith in Michael Bay after The Island.

But like Bay — who dreamed a beautiful dream about making one, no, two, no, four movies about Robots That Can Also Be Cars — Captain Flint has a plan. And part of that plan required finding the ship’s log of the captured ship. He found it…but there was a page missing.

The ship arrived in New Providence Island, which is to pirates what Williamsburg is to hipsters, and what Tortuga is to pirates of the Caribbean. The crew decided to inaugurate John Silver by giving him an important rite of passage: Taking him to see Blackbeard. John walked into a dark room…and saw a woman. “You’re not Blackbeard!” he said. “Yes, I am!” she said, revealing what Robert Louis Stevenson would have called her “Tuzzy-Muzzy.” Then John Silver had sex with five women, because this isn’t goddamn ABC Family, okay?

Meanwhile, Baldo McMutton had work to do. He had to get the shipmates back on the Captain’s side. But the Captain insisted on making a special trip to another island. So Baldo entrusted the Captain with a trusty-looking crewman, a very tall and very British boy known around the seven seas as Bendercumber Hiddlebatch. He had perfect blue eyes the color of aquamarine in a painting by a blind man who could only dream of spring, and he was anxious.

“Does the Captain even know who I am?” said ol’ Bendercumber. “Of course he does!” said Baldo. The Captain, predictably, did not know who he was. One of Bendercumber’s trademark sad-trombone moments! These guys, they’re the original Three’s Company.

NEXT: But isn’t anyone concerned that the sex will distract from the violence?

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